For the Birds…

Friday, September 4, 2015–Blue Jays 2, Orioles 10

So, you probably wouldn’t think this would be a very good game from the score, but scores can be misleading. This was a very tight and entertaining game until things unravled late for the Jays. The Orioles had an early 2-0 lead and Toronto had pecked away on some well-executed small ball to tie it in the bottom of the fifth. When Chris Davis hit a mammoth 2-run homer in the 6th, the game still seemed in hand. But then Matt Wieters hit a ball deep to the warning track in left. It seemed Ben Revere had a good bead on it, but the ball bounced off his glove and over the wall for another homer to make the score 5-2, and things just got more out of hand after that.

28_TorontoBut the real story for me is that I don’t think Blue Jays fans get enough credit. I mean, you never hear Toronto mentioned when American sportscasters talk about the places that have the loudest or most knowledgeable fans. The Jays put up a little bit of a fight with two out in the ninth inning. Two outs and down by two grand slams, the odds of winning are still very low. At a similar game in Boston—one where the home team let a close game get away from them late—Fenway was empty by the time the final out was recorded. When Troy Tulowitzki struck out to end tonight’s game, about two thirds of the fans were still there, still urging their team on, and still involved in all the action on the field (there was even an amused reaction when somebody threw a paper airplane from the second deck which somehow managed to make it almost to the pitcher’s mound).

Meanwhile, I had the great pleasure of speaking with (or, more precisely, shouting over the loudspeaker at) my neighbor Laura who is visiting from Pittsburgh and would like to do an every-ballpark-in-the-majors trip of her own in a couple years. We got to talking about keeping score—a pastime we both enjoy—as well as comparing notes on ballparks we’ve both been to. It was a lot of fun to be able to have the kinds of discussions I just can’t have with people who don’t keep score, such as whether a run should be earned or unearned, or “have you noticed that every one of Jimenez’s strikeouts was looking?” However, there was one moment of irony about that… Wieters grounded out to end the top of the eighth, but because I was showing Laura my custom-designed scorecards, we both missed the play and don’t know how to score it. Oh well.

Here is that scorecard we were making such a fuss over…

Down the Capitol Corridor

Saturday, July 24, 2010– Orioles 2, Twins 7

After my day in Philadelphia, I continued down the east coast to Baltimore. How exhausted was I by this point? I remember nothing about this game. About a month later, when I was back home, I went to mlb.com and looked up the video highlights of the game. In the second, Luke Scott hit a bomb to center for the home team and Dennard Span leaped halfway up the wall to make the catch, arm extended at least four feet over the top of the wall. I know, I saw it on the computer screen. Not only do I not remember the play, but even seeing the video didn’t bring it back. Nonetheless, I look at the scorecard and see that I dutifully penciled in “P8!” in the appropriate box, so clearly I was there and relatively awake–but mentally, I was out of it.

It doesn’t help that it wasn’t a very good game. Brian Matsuz walked the bases loaded in the first, but somehow got out of it only allowing one run. After getting robbed in the second, Scott hit another ball a few feet higher over the center field wall, a two-run homer in the fourth to give the home team a brief lead. Delmon Young put the Twins on top to stay with a homer in the 5th, and then Minnesota tacked on another in the 6th and 3 more in the 7th to put it away, without many threats from the O’s.

I got all that from the scorecard, but what I remember is more impressions of the stadium itself. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the progenitor of the newest wave of baseball-only, “retro” ballparks, and was hailed as one of the nicest in the country. What I found was that everything you see in the main seating bowl (and consequently, everything that can be seen on television) is kept up immaculately, however, many of the concourses and other public areas have not aged as gracefully.

This might have been the most evenly split crowd I’ve seen, it certainly seemed that there were nearly as many Twins fans as Oriole rooters (and not very many fans of either team). I might be wrong about this, but I know the Twins fans had more to cheer about, and they definitely were. What I remember best are the “kiss cam” hijinks. This is a ballpark staple where cameras scan the audience looking for couples, and hopefully the couple in question will notice themselves on the jumbotron and kiss. First, a young lady threw herself theatrically into the arms of her companion. Later, a young man took several back-and-forth glances between the woman sitting to his right and the man to his left, before puckering up and turning to the left. They cut away from this to a close shot of a young couple: she gave him a kiss on the cheek, and he looked away with a pained expression. The game was so awful, this got the loudest reaction of the night, fans of both teams were booing.

Here’s the scorecard.